DUNNIGAN’S TAKE

StrategyPage has some interesting analysis of the tribal-religious nature of the Iraq rebuilding process:

The coalition strategy appears to be working out deals with the many self-serving leaders who have always been out to make a deal with whomever is in power. Among these are the many tribal chiefs. *** The Kurds are still very cooperative. Among the Shias, some religious leaders are willing to work with the occupation forces, while the more fundamentalist ones are being cautioned by religious leaders in Iran to be careful. With civil war brewing in Iran, the Islamic conservatives there don’t want the Iraqi Shia Islamic radicals returning from Iranian exile to give the Americans any incentive to get involved in Iranian politics. The most active opposition to the occupation troops is, as expected, the Sunni Arabs who provided the base of Saddam Hussein’s support. The Sunnis have ruled the region for centuries and will lose much if there is democracy in Iraq. The Shias and Kurds are 80 percent of the population and have so many grudges against the Sunnis that few Sunnis would get elected, or much else, from the government. However, a disproportionate number of college trained Iraqis and skilled administrators and managers are Sunni Arabs. Most of these, unless they went into exile, were members of the Baath party, and thus tainted and barred from government jobs. But these Sunnis will continue to dominate the economy, and thus dominate politics via Shia or Kurd politicians they gain economic control over. But it will be a generation or more before another Sunni Arab runs the country.


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Central and Western Iraq is where most Sunni Arabs live, with another large concentration in the northern city of Mosul. Ever since Saddam took power, he has offered financial incentives for Sunni Arabs to move into the oil field areas, like Mosul, so that eventually Arabs would outnumber the native Kurds and Turkomen.

FILED UNDER: Iraq War
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.